Faceless Travellers – The Triplet Code (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

Since I first wrote about The Triplet Code, their music has taken me off in all sorts of directions, driven by side-projects and solo albums. Returning to this gloriously ornate take on heavy electric blues, as seen through a cosmopolitan filter, one that blends east and west, past and present, feels like I have come full circle. Hopefully the first of many such journeys to come.

As the titular track greets you, you feel transported back in time, although it is hard to pin down just which time, its dark and hypnotic psychedelic grooves, progressive blends of hard rock, classic-sounding guitar moves and alt-rock outsiderness all merging into a wonder potted history of modern rock.

And, as much as the album is definitely a rock album, it is the blends of heavy blues and retrospective textures, as well as some more eastern sonics, which set it apart from the usual rock and roll fare. Imagine if Hendrix was reborn as a desert mystic, inspired by the bright lights of modern-day Amman and the drifting sounds of the timeless, empty deserts rather than American blues traditions and the London of the swinging sixties.

By the time you get to Close The Gate, you encounter the band in its blistering heavy blues meets incendiary rock form, raw and riotous, dense and driven, and The Message has a touch of that oriental Hendrixian flair that I previously alluded to. The Message II is swirling and ornate, Signs circular and chant-like and Break The Shells takes the album to a glorious conclusion, a track that blends neo-classical delicacy and foot-on-the-monitor classic rock, edge with anthemics, groove with grace, the perfect swansong.

Versatility! That’s the name of the game here. It is very easy for bands, especially those working in such heavy musical genres to just turn everything up to maximum and try to make an impact from volume and obvious sonic punch, overplaying and stepping on each other’s musical toes. The Triplet Code does make an impact, but it does so because, for every well-crafted guitar riff, there is space for it to do its work. For every thunderous drum break, there is the same amount of more considered percussion or straight down the line beat keeping. For every ornate bass line, there is room for it to percolate and become an integral part of the melody as well as the groove. This album isn’t a case of less is more, its a case of knowing exactly how much more to put in and more importantly where to put it so that the whole thing works perfectly.

I’ve mentioned this before, specifically when writing about Searching, but I will do so again. There is something wonderfully economical about three-piece bands, ZZ Top, Rush, Cream, Burning Tree, were all capable of making music that was either brilliantly rich or sparse, focused and to the point. Where bass lines held down groove and melodics as much as the guitar did, allowing the latter to head off into whatever flights of sonic fancy it chose, whilst the drums powered through with not only a metronomic anchor but also adding percussive tone and texture to the musical tapestry. The Triplet Code does all that and more. Much more…

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